Meatless Monday with Quinoa Cakes

If you caught my recent 32 in 32 post, the first item on the list was to be Vegetarian. Truth be told, I transitioned to a Vegetarian lifestyle a few weeks ago, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t miss meat, at all. In fact my diet previously was primarily vegetarian, but I apparently psyched myself out. Since saying the words, “I’m Vegetarian”, I’ve gone blank on meal ideas. I’ve been eating lots of homemade Pita chips and hummus…but a girl can’t live on hummus alone (no matter how delicious it is).

Enter Plated…and no, this is not a sponsored post or a referral link. I signed up with Plated months ago and have made a few meals from them, all delicious. So when I needed meal ideas, I ordered a few vegetarian meals from Plated to try out. They send you nearly every items you need to make the meal and the recipe card. The only thing I had to supply was some water, an egg, and some olive oil. I will admit this can be an expensive option which is why I don’t use it regularly, but it was incredibly helpful to have some help when I needed it this week.

Quinoa Cakes_Plated1

This particular meal was Quinoa Cakes with Pan Roasted Mushrooms. Simple. You can probably find hundreds of similar recipes on Pinterest…in fact, check here, I did a quick search for you.

Plated provided the mushrooms, quinoa, onion, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, chives, thyme, and a pad of butter.

While the Quinoa was cooking with the onions, I used the butter to pan roast the mushrooms. Then added some fresh thyme near the end of cooking.

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated2

Once the quinoa was cooked, it was mixed with an egg, garlic, pecorino cheese, chives, and breadcrumbs; then formed into 4 patties (this recipe was service for 2).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated3

Sautéed in a little oil for about 4 minutes per side. I was worried they would fall apart when flipping, but they stayed together surprisingly well.

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated4

Finished cakes topped with mushrooms, chives and a little sour cream (I added the cream, it was not in the recipe).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated5

It was delicious and filling. Exactly what I needed to break out of my hummus rut. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I plan on making some more cakes, with my own twist on the recipes which I hope to share on here in the near future.

 

What are some of your favorite vegetarian/vegan meals? Feel free to link your own blog below in the comments if you have Vegetarian/Vegan friendly posts that I can check out! Or share your favorite Vegetarian/Vegan blogs, those would be helpful too.

Recipes Gone Wrong

Sometimes a picture is only telling you a half truth. For fun, here are two recent meals/recipes I made for the blog, that didn’t quite make the cut. I like you guys too much to have you eat the first one.

I made this pasta about a week ago. It was a mix of whole wheat pasta with a Greek yogurt based avocado and cilantro lime dressing/sauce.

Avocado Cilantro Pasta_2

Looks delicious and I had high hopes since it seemed the perfect cool pasta salad on a hot day. Unfortunately, it was pretty bad. Bland, blah, and I ended up only eating a few bites.

The delicious looking picture is mighty deceiving. I don’t know how the ‘healthy living’ bloggers do it, posting their food each day. It took a ridiculous amount of time to make this pasta and take pretty pictures. I’d eat my own arm before being able to post every meal. Kudos to those blogger for making it look easy.

Avocado Cilantro Pasta_1

More recently I’ve been playing around with various ways to use fruit butters. My favorite so far has delivered a really good cookie, but it didn’t look so hot. I wish I would taken a picture of what it looked like straight from the oven, but instead I was playing with my camera and the picture itself doesn’t look too bad. Friendly blogger tip: when faced with a bad cookie, tilt it and find decent lighting.

Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_1

I basically wrapped sugar cookie dough around a bit of apple butter and half a caramel. Concept was to create a caramel apple butter stuffed sugar cookie. It worked, but the center of the cookie fell a lot after removing from the oven due to the melted caramel and apple butter.The finished cookie was delicious, just not very pretty.

Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_3

I also tried making a sugar cookie ‘cup’ to fill with the apple butter and caramel, but I…umm…burned the cookie dough while trying to make the cup form so that recipe will have to wait for another day.

In the end…why mess with perfection, just a dollop of apple butter on a plain sugar cookie is the way to go. It’s a match made in heaven…trust me. I ate WAY too many, ya know, making sure they were good enough for the blog. Yeah, that’s why.

 Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_4

How To Extend the Life in your CSA Veggies

This chopped lettuce is 2 weeks old! No brown edges, green crunchy leaves…it’s a miracle!

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_3

2 months ago I signed up with a CSA (I pimp my CSA goodies enough that you probably know this). I get a Regular sized box every two weeks, but I quickly found that the fruits/veggies would go bad within a week. This was disappointing because I didn’t want to purchase a weekly box, but I was throwing food out every week since it would go bad before I could finish it all.

The easy answer would be for me to get the small sized box every two weeks, but doesn’t have all the stuff I was really interested in and again, it’s only 1 week of food. Before I succumbed to buying a smaller box (or cancelling all together ::GASP::) I decided to try out a technique I found on Pinterest.

This post by Salad In A Jar showed me how to can lettuce which I thought was genius, but I was still hesitant that it would really last the full two weeks. I was also a little apprehensive since I had never canned or ‘saved’ food before.

Tools:

All the items are completely reusable and rechargeable which I love. The Handheld Vacuum Sealing system also woks great with the Ziploc Bags which I also found at Target.

The process I followed is simple.

Step 1:

First I wash the lettuce in a water/white vinegar mix to remove any dirt and bugs. I found a snail in ahead of lettuce once so I never skip this step nowadays. I dry the lettuce using a small salad spinner and lay it out on a terry cloth to get rid of the excess moisture. Then I chop the lettuce and fill the jars, leaving some room at the top. For the purposes of this step by step, I resealed some chopped up cabbage since I didn’t have any extra fresh lettuce on hand for this post.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_4

Step 2:

Place the seal lid onto the jar and then add the wide mouth jar sealer.  Place the handheld vacuum onto the top of the sealer, over the hole, and activate for 10-12 seconds (according to the instructions that came with the product).

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_5

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_6

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_7

Step 3:

Remove the vacuum and jar sealer, add the canning rim and place in the fridge.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_8

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_9

*Disclaimer – I’m sharing with you a process that worked for me. I’m not an expert in canning or ‘vacu-saving’ so please be sure to follow the instructions included with any products you purchase. Please use your best judgment when consuming a product that has been ‘saved’. Mine did last 2 weeks, but I cannot guarantee that everyone will experience that same result.

 

Now through the magic of television the internet I can show you lettuce that has been sealed for a full two weeks. Both the lettuce in the jar and the bowl is two weeks old. If I didn’t know that it was jarred lettuce, I would never had known the difference. While there were a few slimy pieces, it was only 2-3 and easy to pick out. The rest were crisp and fresh.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_1

As you can see from a picture above, I did also successfully jar Kale and Cabbage with similar results. I’ve also used this method to save fresh green beans and snap peas that came in the CSA box as well. I ate those within a week so I don’t know how they would have fared at the 2 week mark. 

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_2

Like I said above, the handheld vacuum also works with the special Ziploc bags, which means I’ve been basically vacuum saving everything in my house lately…new fun gadget and all…

As 1 person, I can’t eat a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. I also have been purchasing block cheese from Costco, then vacu-saving and freezing the excess to use in future weeks.

 

I have one other trick up my sleeve that is fairly inexpensive and can be useful for the fruit and herbs that come in the CSA Box, but that will have to be for another post.

 

What do you do to keep your CSA bounty lasting longer?

Eco Challenge – Join A CSA

Bad news…I don’t have a grocery update for you today. With the unexpected work stress over the past 2 weeks, I didn’t get to the store so I’ve been eating what I had in the house or going out. There have been so many days when I just don’t have the energy to cook. It’s definitely out of the norm for me to eat out so often, but for the sake of my sanity it’s been necessary lately.

Good News…I joined a CSA!

Via

I have been wanting to join a CSA for years, but the one I wanted to join had a very limited route in my area so it wasn’t practical for me. However, in my new area they deliver to a nearby Farmers Market, so I signed up this week and begin picking up my Fruits/Veggies this weekend. I signed up to receive the Regular size box every 2 weeks and I’m on a trial membership so I can see how that size works out. They also offer a smaller box just in case the Regular is too much food.

Each week they post the box contents so I already know what I’m getting this week and I’m excited!

Regular Size: Lettuce, Bunching Onions, Sorrel, Spinach, Radishes, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Lemons, Apples, Strawberries

There are a few things in there that I’ve never tried before, like Sorrel and Swiss Chard. What is Sorrel?

The CSA I decided to sign up for is JR Organics which  Certified Organic Vegetable Farm and has been in business since 1959 (Organic since 1986). It was also a plus that they are located right near my family, less than an hour from my house. It nice to know that the food won’t travel far. In addition to the Fruits/Veggies, this CSA also has flower shares you can buy so I’ll also receive a bouquet of flowers with each food box.

Via

I’ll give you a peak at the actual box/flowers once I get it, but if you’re in the Southern California area you may want to check them out. I’m not sure they hit LA, but they do set up at farmers markets all over Sand Diego and even into Orange County.

If you want to find a CSA near you, check out the Local Harvest website for resources.

 

For anyone wondering, I plan to adjust my weekly food budget to account for the weekly cost of the CSA. It cost about $20 a week so I plan to reduce the rest of my budge down to $20 a week. I’m at least going to try and see how it works out. More on that in the coming weeks.

Eco Challenge – Meatless Monday

I grew up eating meat and I’ve never been Vegetarian or Vegan; however, over the years I’ve been slowly filtering out certain types of meat. I almost never eat red meat anymore, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I do eat chicken, turkey, fish and some pork/bacon; however, I would love to filter that down even more.  I haven’t found any great resources for organic/responsibly raised meat options near my new house, but I’m looking.  In the meantime I’m trying new recipes and trying to make more meals that are meatless.

I was pleased with what I ate today and didn’t miss the meat at all; however, I would need to educate myself on protein sources if I chose to go Vegetarian long term. Growing up eating meat means that I automatically gravitate toward some type of meat course, especially at dinner. I haven’t been a fan of the faux meat products so far, and I just can’t do tofu, it’s a texture thing.

 

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts & Dried Fruit

I need to start eating Oatmeal more often, it’s so versatile. My favorite is a basic oatmeal (unsweetened) with a nut and a fruit. Today I paired it with a glass of a V8 Fusion Tea. I’m lost on why they call it Tea, there is nothing remotely ‘Tea’ about it; although it was good.

Walnut Fruit Oatmeal

 

Lunch: Green Smoothie

This meal put me in the worst mood, and it’s not because it looks like some sort of atomic sludge. I agree, it looks absolutely disgusting, but it’s a delicious mix of banana, cocoa, cherries, and spinach. However, I’ve determined that my Bullet Blender is a piece of ::ahem:: crap. I never had any problems with my last one, but this one is a joke. It leaks down into the motor constantly and takes a ridiculous amount of time to blend anything. I need a Vita Mix…STAT!

Green Smoothie

Dinner: Butternut Squash Risotto & Dinner Roll

A little bland, I need to work on the seasonings a bit, but delicious. Bulking up on the veggies means I didn’t miss the meat at all. I paired this with an (unpictured) dinner roll (or two). Ok, I actually ate the dinner rolls while I was cooking dinner but I’m sure they would have been great with the meal too.

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

 

Vegetarians/Vegans..any recommended meat alternatives? I’m willing to try things like Tofu again, but I need some help finding the best way to cook it.

A Day of Eats

So after my recent weight loss update post, I had quite a few emails asking me about what I’ve been eating lately. How I eat always make the biggest impact on my weight loss, but I (like a lot of people) don’t like ‘diet’ food. I don’t like air crisped snack bars that taste like packing Styrofoam and I’m just not satisfied by prepackaged freezer meals; I’m hungry an hour later.

I don’t ever want to feel like I’m on a diet. Even while I’m trying to lose weight, I feel it’s important to eat for the body I want and in a way that I can maintain long term. What I eat changes on a daily basis, I eat similar meals everyday, but I don’t usually eat the same thing each day.

For fun, I took pictures of everything I ate on yesterday. 

Better Oats Chai Spiced Oatmeal with 1 Cup Blueberries, Flax Meal, and Walnuts

In general I like oatmeal, but I like it plain and dry. Plain to me is without sugar, butter, or milk. Prepackaged oats are easy, but so many of them come in flavors like Maple, Brown Sugar, or Apple Cinnamon. These are always too sweet for me. If I’m not making my own oatmeal, I use Better Oats. They are prepackaged and only take minutes in the microwave. The other brand I like is Trader Joe’s frozen Steel Cut oats.

Blueberry Oatmeal

LOTS of baby spinach & half a container Trader Joe’s Rosemary Chicken & Wild Rice

I eat a lot of Spinach each day, this salad had about 4 cups chopped up. I found the Chicken & Rice meal at Trader Joe’s and they are delicious (they are fresh made in their deli section). There are two servings per container and cook up easy in the Microwave or Oven. If I put it over spinach then I use the rice flavor as a dressing.

Rosemary Chicken & Rice over Spinach

Sometime between Lunch and Dinner I snacked on a serving of Hershey Dark Kisses. I refuse to give up all sweets, it’s not realistic for me. If I do, I’ll end up eating a whole cake in a few weeks and gaining all the weight back. Moderation.

Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses

Dinner was Fish Tacos, without the avocado (I didn’t have any in the house).

I had some cabbage that was going bad so I decided to make my favorite fish tacos. They are easy, fast, and delicious.

Fish Tacos 

So that’s it, a typical day of eats for me. I’m not a big snacker at night and I keep a mason jar full of water next to me all day, usually drinking between 10-14 glasses a day. Luckily I like my water plain and I prefer water over other beverages.

 

A few other questions I got after the weight loss post.

 

Are you still following the Tracey Anderson Metamorphosis program?

Yes! I have restarted the program since I had to take a few weeks off around Christmas. Technically it’s a 90 day program, but I’m using it as a cardio/muscle program so I’m not very concerned about whether I finish it in 3 months as long as I keep at it.

 

Do you track calories? How?

Yes, I do track calories. Usually I wear a Bodybugg because it gives me an accurate overview of my calories burned so that I can fuel properly. However, over the past few weeks I’ve been testing out the My Fitness Pal website and Android app. The phone app has a bar code scanner that allows you to scan the bar code of foods you eat and it automatically brings up the nutrition info for you. I’ve been pretty impressed so far.

 

Do you have any Before/After pictures?

Yes, I did take before pictures, and I plan to take new pictures every month as I lose more. I don’t plan on posting them until I’ve made significantly more progress. At some point I may feel comfortable sharing them, but not yet.

 

In Other News…

The tile is up on the fireplace!

My dad came over today and help me with it, then we went out for lunch. It was actually a really fun day. I’ll wait to share which style I chose and a final picture until we get the grout finished on Monday. However, it looks amazing and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Holiday Food Wrap-Up

Yesterday was a lot of fun and there was plenty of great food. However, I only took pictures of the appetizers because they were by far my favorite. I also made some dark chocolate pistachio toffee for dessert. It’s addictive and I’ll be sharing that recipe in a separate post sometime in the next week.

S’mores Marshmallow Pops

Holiday Foodie 2011

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Sugared Cranberries & Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti in the background (I’ll share this recipe later as well)

Holiday Foodie 2011

Toffee fixin’s

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Chocolate Fruit Skewers

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

Blueberry Gingerbread

Blueberry Gingerbread

Balsamic Almonds

Balsamic Almonds

Holy Goodness!

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

For the decor I used my vintage blue ball jars, pinecones and Christmas lights. I absolutely loved them and am trying to figure out how to leave them all year long.

Holiday Appetizer Decor 2011

 

I don’t have any pictures right now, but as a DIY junkie I got the best gifts ever this year, a workbench for my garage and some tools. I can’t wait to set them up and starting sawing things in half, oh yeah!

Aside from the frustrating back injury, it was a great day and we all had a wonderful time.

What was the best part of your celebration this year?

Christmas Dinner Menu

This year I am hosting Christmas Dinner at my house and I’ve decided to try something new. I have planned for several new recipes and it will be more of a small plates meal. Lots of items cooked in small quantities so we can try everything without being too stuffed. Oh, let’s face it…we’ll never want to eat again..but it will be worth it!

image

 

Small Bites

Sweet & Spicy Hot Links

Artichoke Dip

Balsamic Almonds

S’more Pops

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

 

Entree

Roasted Turkey Breast

Mom’s Cranberries

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Gratin

Mashed Potatoes w/ Shallots & Thyme

Honey Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

Sourdough Sausage Stuffing

Homemade Biscuits

Gravy

 

Dessert

Dark Chocolate Toffee

Apple Tart & Vanilla Bean Gelato

 

Photo Source